Somehow cool beyond belief
Thanks to Super Diamond, a generation gap is being bridged.
No longer will the music of Neil Diamond be reserved for “warm” radio stations and elevator music. No more will songs such as “Sweet Caroline” and “America” be confined to the record players of our parents. No more.
A pack of six enthusiasts who call themselves Super Diamond take Diamond cover songs to a new level. Through their alternative/punk/rock spin on Diamond, the band wants to make it clear that this isn’t your parents’ music.
Though this band caters to both young and old with their modern musical interpretation of this music, the biggest fans of Super Diamond are the people who come from backgrounds like that of the band’s members; mid-30s guys and gals who grew up in the 1970s listening to their parents’ records and tapes of Diamond. The band takes those memories and familiarities and gives all ages a fresh look at Diamond’s artistry.
Diamond himself hasn’t gone on tour since 1999, and there aren’t any plans for him to tour this year.This may upset his greatest fans, but Super Diamond hopes it can fill that void in the American public’s heart. The band has been all over the country, singing in many prestigious venues.
“We perform at the Crystal Ballroom quarterly,” said the band’s leader and Diamond sound-alike, Randy Cordero. The cover-song wonders were just in town last weekend at the Crystal, and won’t be back until early August, but they’ll be back in our neck of the woods July 4 weekend up in Seattle.
So how did this band get together? Why Neil Diamond, of all people? These are the questions that Cordero had to answer.
As a child, Cordero never really saw himself touring the country while playing old Diamond cover songs. Although Cordero has always enjoyed music, especially writing and performing, Cordero said that he liked being able to expose Diamond’s work to people who were never really familiar with it. “There were even some people who didn’t know Sweet Caroline,” he said.
Super Diamond isn’t Cordero’s only project. He’s seriously pursuing a songwriting career, and is in the formative stages of a new band, yet to be named.
The Diamond mania began when Cordero was playing solo gigs in 1989 in Tempe, Ariz. He would perform some of his own original material, and then he’d throw in a Diamond tune just to shake up the crowd.
He expected the audience to get “pissed off,” but they never did. The crowds loved Cordero’s interpretation of the music. This led to gigs at parties, where Cordero would be asked to play all Diamond stuff, and to dress up like the ’70s pop wonder.
“I didn’t want to use my own name, that was reserved for my original music,” Cordero said. “I didn’t want to try to be like some impersonators who used the person’s name. I never planned or intended on doing impersonation.”
So Cordero had to come up with his own name for the Neil Diamond gigs. “Surreal Neil” was the first thing that popped into his head. He liked using the word surreal because it’s “not like the real thing. It was perfect.”
The solo “Surreal Neil” performances went on for nearly four years until he moved back to his homeland of California. There, in San Francisco, Cordero found some kindred spirits.
“I always wanted to form a [Neil Diamond] band, but I didn’t want to go and place ads … I didn’t want to get the wrong type or people,” Cordero said. So he just waited it out, and through performances around San Francisco, he met five other musicians who were worthy to play the music of Diamond.
In 1993, the band that is now known as Super Diamond was formed, featuring Surreal Neil, and his pack of Diamond boys. Everybody in the band developed some kind of a Spice Girls-esque name. There was “Surreal Neil,” of course. Now, the band consisted of Rama Diamond on keyboards, and Matt Diamond on bass.
As the band played the San Francisco club scene, they gained popularity. What started out as local gigs turned into West Coast tours, which in turn has led to performances all over the United States. Since forming in 1993, Super Diamond has gained members. In addition to the three founding members, James Diamond was added as second keyboardist, Vince Diamond joined as drummer, and Erik Diamond took lead guitar.
Cordero has found Super Diamond’s success as a definite shock.
“Super Diamond has really taken off bigger than I ever thought.” Cordero said he was amazed that his band gets to play in clubs where cover bands don’t normally play. Places such as Irving Plaza in New York, and the House of Blues in Chicago and Los Angeles aren’t normally for his type of band, said Cordero.
And if you were wondering, yes, they have met the object of their performance.”It was great,” Cordero said. “We met him at the House of Blues in L.A. and he came up on stage and sang ‘I Am I Said’ with us. The second time he saw us was when he was in ‘Saving Silverman.’ ” Evidently, Diamond told the boys in Super Diamond to “keep up the good work.”
You can’t really see Super Diamond anytime in the immediate future, you just missed them. But you can check out their Web site (www.superdiamond.com), where you can find more biographical information, and even get sample mp3s of their music. Some of the band members have their own personal pages too, such as www.surrealneil.com, which is Cordero’s.
Though the band won’t be back for a while, isn’t it great just to know there’s someone out there making music that was previously called “uncool,” cool?